Cuba win first battle with US

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Maikro Romero, striking at the heart of what Fidel Castro calls "the monster", gave first blood to Cuba yesterday by beating the American flyweight Eric Morel, in the first contest between fighters from the two ideological foes at the Atlanta Games.

Romero silenced the home crowd, who reacted predictably with cheers for their man and boos for the visitor, with an overwhelming 24-12 win in the first series of fights in the 51kg division.

Romero was under team orders not to talk to the media, so he was unable to pass any public comment on a victory he based on a blistering start.

That left Morel to explain away his defeat, and he avoided controversy. "I started too slow," he said. "I think the first round cost me the fight. I just didn't do my thing."